Update and Baja Divide Photos

Hello!

This message comes to you from Pittsburgh, Pa after nearly three months on the road. On December 30th, 2016, I boarded an Amtrak train with my fat-tired bicycle, a Surly ECR. On January 2nd, 2017, I arrived in San Diego, assembled my bike, and rode to a place called Barrett Junction where a hundred riders assembled for a group camp (I missed the San Diego group start arriving a few hours too late). On January 3rd, we cycled to the border and crossed into Mexico entering a town called Tecate. We stocked up on a few days of food and rode out of town to another group camp.

For the next two months, I cycled with various riders to La Paz where my time on the Baja Divide came to an end. We tackled endless climbs and bombed gnarly descents. We cycled beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. We ate more tacos than you would believe. And we slept beneath endless canopies of stars. Life in Baja is good.

On March 5th, I mentioned an intention to hitchhike home or at least to San Diego where I could take another train. A train would negate the need to disassemble my bike. I also prefer the slow and steady approach. It allows time to decompress and ready oneself for a new reality in a place where people typically shower daily and don’t consider as work stuffing another taco into an already full stomach. Well, another travel overheard and offered me a ride. I couldn’t say no.

I spent the next ten days road-tripping in a van with a Finnish man who was kayak touring the Baja Peninsula. We explored the backroads driving by day and camping by night. We went to Vegas then to Death Valley where everything went horribly wrong. Driving a backcountry road, he struck a rock putting a fist-sized hole in the oil pan directly beneath the oil pump. “What does this light mean?” It read “check gages” and meant we were screwed.

We were eventually towed to a service station in Death Valley by someone in a real off-road vehicle. The mechanic took days to look at the vehicle. “It’s dead. You can either have it towed somewhere or sign the title over to us and we’ll scrap it for you.” He signed the papers and they drove him to Vegas where he caught a bus to San Fransisco to catch a waiting flight home to Finland.

I began riding but did not make it far. Because of a drivetrain that was completely worn out, the derailluer refused to shift onto the bigger rings. I kept riding anyway. Until the derailleur was sucked into the wheel. I set the bike up single speed and rode back to John and his Jeep. I camped with him. In the morning he drove me to town.

I attempted to hitchhike but it was nearly impossible in this town. I decided to ride, but my  drivetrain continued to deteriorate forcing me onto the highway where I used a call-box to phone for help. A California Highway Patrol officer picked me up and drove me to a town with an Amtrak station where the saga finally came to an end on the 20th of March.

I’m currently sorting through photos and working to improve the website I built in the month between completing the Appalachian Trail and beginning the Baja Divide. Expect in-depth stories and tons more photos in the coming weeks.

Take care!

Ryan “Kodak” Brown

Here are some of my favorite shots from the last few months. Those that follow me on Instagram have seen many of these already. I’ll be posting more shortly.

 

BajaDivideHouse

BeachFireCircle

SaltFlatRed

MilkyWayCampVert

HyerLiteMilkyWay

BikeAndMoto

DeadDolfin

DesertCamp

SelfWithHippies 9.24.17 AM

 

SelfPortraitBeach

SunsetSillhouetteBG 10.49.45 PM

AllySunsetBeachWalk

 

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Update: Appalachian Trail Completion, New Website, And The Next Adventure

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted but, I have a good reason. I was living in the woods. I was also working on a new project that showcases my photography and my travels. The website is also the new home of this blog. Check it out: http://www.kodakbrown.com

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A quick update:

I summited Mount Katahdin on the 22nd of October, basically the last day possible. Hikers still summited the next day in sketchy conditions. They came off the mountain with minor frostbite. I rented a car and drove to NYC where I took a Megabus into Pittsburgh.

Two weeks flew by with me unable to sit still. I wasn’t ready to be done; to settle into civilized society. I loaded my bike and went camping. I slept on the couches of friends and family. Then, I spent a week+ riding to and from Harpers Ferry with a friend from the Appalachian Trail. I was ready to be comfortable after snow in the mountains forced me to call for a lift. When my dad picked me up, the temperature was 26 degrees and falling. Two inches of snow were already on the ground and more was falling.

I have been working on my photography portfolio and website since returning. I am working side jobs and selling everything I can. On December 30th, 2016, I take a train to San Diego, Ca and ride the Baja Divide, a 1,700 mile off-road route to Cabo San Lucas.

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Post Trail Depression

Just Two Hikers

I want to discuss the topic of post-trail depression.  This is a very real phenomenon, discussed over and over again by hikers but often times overlooked by friends and family.  Not everyone experiences it, but I would say that most do.   It is very real, and should not be taken lightly.  Hikers have even taken their lives in the months following their thru-hikes.  It is a good idea to consider how you’ll manage your mental well-being after coming off a long distance trail well before the time is upon you.

The reasons for post trail depression are quite obvious once you think about the position you will be in once you finish your hike:  You will have just completed a gigantic goal for which you are proud, but few others understand.  You will likely be homeless or penniless or both.  You will likely have no job, and no sense of…

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In Two Photographs, What is the Appalachian Trail?

What is the Appalachian Trail in two photos:

 

The Appalachian Trail is all about the people. Every year, thousands of hopeful thru-hikers flock to the southern terminus of the AT to test their mettle against the brutal ups and downs of life in the Appalachian Mountains. Most of us begin alone before finding what we call our “trail families.” In this photo are Finch, Mountain Goat, and My Shadow who are cuddle together in the corner of a shelter enjoying each others comanionship and warmth as they prepare to remove their jackets and face a cold days hike. I had the great pleasure to hike with these girls for roughly two months.

While the first photo illustrates the warmth and comfort of friends on the trail, this photo displays the trails darker side. It is one of my favorite photographs for this reason. A lone hiker traverses an exposed bald on a dark and gloomy day. The trail tests us in many ways often bringing out our deepest and darkest secrets. On the Appalachian Trail (or any grand adventure) we are forced to face our demons. It is these thoughts we battle more than the mountains or rough terrain. The trail tests the mettle of our minds way more than that of our bodies. Even when we physically hurt, which is often, it is our minds that overcome the pain pushing us ever onward.

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Harpers Ferry to Boiling Springs: Days #119-129

Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

Total AT Miles: 1,121 mi

Miles Remaining: 1,068 mi

Welcome to Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, the land where ice-cold spring water bubbles forth from the ground rippling the surface like water at a roiling boil. In one spot, water (clean enough to dunk your head and drink) flows out of a cavern 1,800ft deep. The opening lies beneath a shelf of rocks and is barely larger than the width of a human torso. We soaked in the 52 degree water for as long as we could. The initial shock of the cold gave way to euphoric giggles. Better than a half gallon of ice-cream I’d say.

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Four days ago, we reached the official halfway point of the trail. Initial excitement from overcoming the challenge of hiking half the trail quickly gave way to the prospect of a new challenge: eating half-a-gallon of ice-cream. The challenge dates back at least two decades to the previous owner of the Pine Grove General Store. Seeing skinny and starving thru-hikers gave him the idea. Thru-hikers are always craving ice-cream. It is cold, refreshing, and loaded with calories. Why not eat as much as it as they can?

Eating this quantity of ice-cream is as hard as it sounds. For many at least. Firecracker walked laps up and down the road making room for more and to ward off the nausea. I did not try and race, like many, but took my time savoring each bite. I felt fine upon completion easily claiming my wooden spooned stamped “member of half gal. club.” I even ate a burger afterward. Then again, I’ve completed this challenge before… Firecracker, she felt a little sick and needed to lie down. She earned her spoon though! Continue reading